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How to Double Cleanse Correctly

By Gabriella Buckner - 1 year ago | Updated
cleansing

While double cleansing has been around for a long time (we’re talking as far back as the 14th century in Japanese, Korean, German and French skincare), it’s had a bit of a revival lately. Videos featuring this buzzword total 205.5 million views on TikTok, and brands like Dermalogica have created products designed especially for double cleansing.

If you’re wondering what exactly this trend is all about, or you’ve heard of it but aren’t sure if you really need to be doing it, the Cosmetify team is here to answer all your questions and help you double cleanse the right way.

After tons of research into what dermatologists and other skincare experts are saying about the double cleansing method, we’ve rounded up the pros and cons of adding double cleansing to your routine and some of the best products out there to get the job done.

WHAT IS DOUBLE CLEANSING?

The name is pretty self explanatory: you cleanse your face twice in order to get a better, deeper cleanse.

However, the idea isn’t just to use any two cleansers, but to start with an oil-based cleanser to really remove makeup, sunscreen, oil and dirt that’ve accumulated throughout the day. Then you follow up with a water-based cleanser, which can be more targeted towards your specific skin concerns.

Not only does this remove residue more thoroughly, but it helps your water-based cleanser and following leave-on products better penetrate your skin. Who doesn’t want that?

Well, that leads us into the next question. Do you actually need to double cleanse?


WHO SHOULD DOUBLE CLEANSE THEIR SKIN?

Since the purpose of double cleansing is mainly to get rid of makeup, skincare experts like dermatologist Dr. Dray say you might not need it if you don’t wear any. A regular cleanser can be plenty for most people, and if you’ve already got dry or sensitive skin, you’ll want to be careful you don’t over wash and end up irritating your skin.

The experts at Paula’s Choice recommend double cleansing if you wear heavy or transfer-resistant makeup, as well as mineral-based sunscreens. They also love this method for those with oily skin that can’t handle a single, stronger cleanser. Dr. Vanita Rattan, a doctor in medicine and pharmacology who runs a great YouTube channel about products for darker skin tones tells Glamour Magazine, however, that for oily skin you might want to avoid using an oil-based cleanser in your double cleanse routine and instead use a salicylic acid cleanser twice.

Dermalogica is a strong supporter of this method whether or not you wear makeup, for the benefits an oil-based cleanser offers your skin barrier. If you live in an area with high pollution (which sadly is a lot of areas nowadays), then this could also be really beneficial for you.

HOW TO DOUBLE CLEANSE

  1. Apply your chosen oil-based cleanser to your palms and massage into your skin
  2. Rinse with lukewarm water
  3. Apply your water-based cleansed to your palms and massage into damp skin
  4. Rinse off and pat dry

If you’re worried about over-stripping your skin or don't want to use an oil-based cleanser, dermatologist Dr. Shereene Idriss loves to use micellar water as the first step in her double cleanse, which gently yet efficiently removes dirt, oil and makeup. Then follow with your second cleanser as normal.

BEST CLEANSERS FOR PART 1 OF DOUBLE CLEANSING

Browse our selection of the best oils, balms and micellar waters to get rid o' all that gunk left on your skin from the day.

Dermalogica Precleanse

£11.75 £15.00 (22% off)

This oil is designed specifically to be the first step in a double cleansing routine, so it's no surprise it's one of our favourites! It treats breakouts, dryness, oiliness, inflammation and eczema, nourishing your skin with borage seed, apricot kernel and kukui nut. There's also rice bran oil to help shield your skin against oxidative damage and vitamin E to leave your skin soft and supple.

The INKEY List Oat Cleansing Balm

£13.23

This moisturising cleanser uses oat kernel oil and colloidal oatmeal to soothe irritation and redness as it removes all trace of impurities. Perfect for sensitive and/or dry skin! And as bonus, you can leave it on for ten minutes as a mask.

Augustinus Bader The Cleansing Balm

£62.00

If you're looking to splurge on a balm, then we can't recommend enough this buttery slave that melts into a milky cleanser. It nourishes your skin with avocado, olive fruit oil vitamin E and squalane, revitalising your complexion and getting it ready for step two!

PIXI Pink Salt Cleansing Oil

£24.34

The mineral-rich Himalayan salt in this cleansing oil from PIXI detoxifies your skin whilst rosemary leaf oil decongests pores and olive oil imparts antioxidant benefits. You'll be left with thoroughly cleansed and radiant skin.

ELEMIS Nourishing Omega Rich Cleansing Oil

£22.55 £38.00 (41% off)

Natural oils like winter rose and pomegranate hydrate your skin and help maintain its pH balance in this luxurious cleansing oil from ELEMIS. There's also omega-9 to keep your skin healthy.

Nuxe Very Rose 3-in-1 Hydrating Micellar Water

£14.40 £18.00 (20% off)

If you prefer a micellar water as your first step, you'll love the soothing effects of this delicate rose-scented cleansing water.

Caudalie Micellar Cleansing Water

£22.36 £29.00 (23% off)

Another great option is this soap-free, 98% naturally derived cleansing water from Caudalie that uses chamomile to soothe the skin and grape water to moisturise.

BEST CLEANSERS FOR PART 2 OF DOUBLE CLEANSING

FOR OILY SKIN

Remember how one of the risks of double cleansing is over-cleansing and stripping your skin? It's also a trap a lot of people with oily skin fall into because they think they need to scrub the living daylights out of their faces to get rid of oil and clear out their pores. But you don't need to be (and shouldn't be) rough with your oily skin (or any skin type). Double cleansing, like we were saying earlier, is perfect for letting you use two gentler cleansers rather than one harsher one to get a great cleanse.

Clarins Purifying Gentle Foaming Cleanser

£18.74 £25.00 (26% off)

This is a creamy, invigorating cleanser that doesn't strip your skin. Purifying Alpine herbs calm the skin whilst squalane, meadowsweet extract and salicylic acid clear out your pores and mattify your complexion.

Dermalogica Active Clearing Skin Wash

£33.95 £42.43 (20% off)

Salicylic acid exfoliates your skin to clear away blemishes and congestion with the help of menthol, camphor, balm mint, eucalyptus and tea tree extract. You'll be left with radiant skin that isn't stripped of its natural oils.

Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser

£8.00 £10.00 (20% off)

For a cleanser on a budget, we always reach for brands like Cetaphil. This cleanser offers a deep yet gentle cleanse is also perfect for combination and sensitive skin as it preserves your natural skin barrier and balances your pH levels. Enriched with niacinamide and panthenol.

FOR DRY SKIN

Your skin's probably loving life after using an oil-based cleanser or balm, but following with a water-based cleanser will still benefit dry complexions and remove the last of your makeup and sunscreen. We love these nourishing cleansers for hydrating parched skin.

PIXI Hydrating Milky Cleanser

£20.31

Dry skin loves a milky cleanser! And we love this hydrating and soothing one enriched with coconut, probiotics, jojoba and willow bark extract. It'll nourish and balance your skin and calm inflammation to give you the skin you deserve.

Dermalogica Intensive Moisture Cleanser

£33.95 £42.00 (20% off)

If you've got an extremely dry and damaged skin barrier, then this creamy cleanser is the perfect second step in your double cleanse routine. It offers hydration from coconut oil and murumuru seed butter, as well as protection and strengthening of your natural barrier lipids. And you can't say no to the refreshing scent of citrus, jasmine and palmarose!

FOR SENSITIVE SKIN

If you've got this skin type, then you know by now how careful you need to be when adding in new products to your routine. You'll want to look for formulas free of synthetic fragrances, soaps and anything else that might trigger a reaction. We love these gentle, soothing cleansers that still get the job done!

Dermalogica Ultra Calming Cleanser

£33.95 £42.00 (20% off)

Non-foaming and fragrance-free, this delightful cleanser is super soft and gentle on your skin. It contains lavender to soothe, cucumber to cool and cornflower to calm and protect. Angry, sensitive skin has finally met its match!

Medik8 Gentle Cleanse

£6.40 £8.00 (20% off)

Another lovely fragrance-free option, this mild cleanser soothes and refreshes with a light foam consistency. Your skin benefits from antioxidant-rich rosemary leaf and softening glycerin that leaves your skin hydrated and protected from free radical damage.

FOR ALL SKIN TYPES

PIXI Glow Tonic Cleansing Gel

£19.42

This gel will leave your skin feeling energised, refined and brightened, thanks to the exfoliation of glycolic acid and soothing properties of horse chestnut extract. Plus, you'll also get hydration from aloe vera and a circulation boost from ginseng.

ELEMIS Superfood CICA Calm Cleansing Foam

£16.30 £29.00 (44% off)

Feed your face some superfoods with this foaming cleanser, which is packed with fermented agave to soothe and moisturise, kefir to protect your microbiome and cica and fermented green tea seed oil to give you healthy and nourished skin.

HydroPeptide Cashmere Cleanse Facial Rose Milk

£46.00

We also love this comforting cleanser that uses hydrolyzed milk, rose water and aloe vera to balance your skin, support its barrier function and leave you with dewy skin.

Now that you're a double cleansing expert, you might like to brush up your knowledge on the rest of your skincare routine. Discover the Best Toners for Poreless Skin and the Best Chemical Exfoliants for Soft, Smooth Skin.

Gabriella Buckner

Written by Gabriella Buckner

Gabriella is a junior content writer with a background in creative writing, content marketing and journalism. She’s passionate about all things makeup and skincare, but especially vegan and cruelty-free beauty that is effective and inexpensive.

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